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Grilled Honey Bourbon Chicken Wings

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Grilled Honey Bourbon Chicken Wings are sweet and a little spicy, with a mellow bourbon flavor that’s hard to beat. Reduce the marinade and baste it on the wings, and you’ll be licking your fingers after every mouthwatering bite!

THIS POST AND RECIPE CARD UPDATED JUNE 16, 2019
overhead shot of finished honey bourbon chicken wings in a metal bucket tipped over with wings coming out

For a long time, I never understood the allure of cooking with alcohol. As far as I was concerned, alcohol was for drinking, not cooking. Over time I began to experiment with wine and realized how much flavor it adds to a dish. And I’m now incorporating some recipes that use liquor.

I began creating chicken wing recipes a couple of years ago. Wings are versatile and easy to eat, and you can be very creative with flavors. My Old Bay Chicken Wings were an instant hit with my friends, and I can eat my Baked Spicy Honey Chicken Wings by the pound.

I have several bottles of bourbon, but very rarely drink it myself. I know it works well in cooking, and I was searching for a new chicken wing recipe so I decided to combine them for Grilled Honey Bourbon Chicken Wings

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS
  • The marinade is very easy to make
  • Cooking down the marinade creates a delicious glaze
  • You can make the wings on the grill or in the oven
overhead shot of finished grilled honey bourbon chicken wings in a metal bucket with a couple of wings on the platter, with lemon wedges and dipping sauce
GRILLED HONEY BOURBON CHICKEN WINGS MARINADE

Use a good bourbon. You don’t have to break the bank, and there are a variety of good bourbons at reasonable prices. I like to use Maker’s Mark.

You can experiment with the proportions, but a few ingredients are key: Brown Sugar, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, and Dried Thyme.

Paprika and Cayenne Pepper add heat, and Raw Honey adds a sweetness that tones down that heat.

Fresh lemon juice adds brightness and a little bit of a tart bite.

Don’t discard the marinade! Simmer the marinade in a small saucepan for 15 minutes while the wings cook, and that will destroy any “raw” from the used marinade. The Cornstarch will thicken the sauce, and you can use a Basting Brush to brush the sauce over the wings.

PREPARING THE CHICKEN WINGS

I buy frozen chicken wings because they are much more economical than buying fresh.

Add the marinade to the frozen wings, so the wings absorb the marinade as they thaw. The wings will take 6-8 hours to thaw in the fridge. 

Marinate the wings in a large Ziploc Bag.

Take the wings out of the fridge about 10 minutes before adding to the grill, while the grill heats up.

STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS

Add the dry ingredients to a bowl, and whisk with a fork to break up any chunks of brown sugar. Add the wet ingredients to another bowl, and then add the dry ingredients to the wet. Whisk well to combine.

overhead shot of marinade ingredients in a white bowl

Add frozen chicken wings to a large Ziploc bag, and pour marinade over chicken. Squeeze extra air out of bag, seal, and massage marinade all over wings. Set in fridge to thaw and marinate

Remove chicken from the fridge and transfer chicken wings to a plate while the grill heats up.

Transfer chicken wings to a 350-degree grill and cook for 12 minutes per side.

raw, marinated wings on grill

While the chicken cooks, pour marinade into a small saucepan and simmer for 10-15 minutes. The marinade will thicken into a beautiful glaze.

overhead process shot: marinade simmering in a saucepan on the grill

Brush both sides of chicken with glaze, and let cook for another 5 minutes

cooked wings on grill, with cooked marinade being brushed on a wing

Remove chicken from the grill. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes, and serve

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How long do I marinate the wings if they are thawed? At least 4 hours. You could do one hour if you’re in a pinch, but you won’t get nearly as much flavor

What if I don’t want to cook the used marinade? Make double the marinade, divide it in half immediately, and reserve half to cook for the glaze

Can I make Grilled Honey Bourbon Chicken Wings in the oven? Absolutely! Follow the same cooking instructions

overhead shot of finished honey bourbon chicken wings in a metal bucket tipped over with wings coming out
WHAT DIPPING SAUCES TO SERVE WITH GRILLED HONEY BOURBON CHICKEN WINGS
MORE DELICIOUS RECIPES WITH ALCOHOL
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Grilled Honey Bourbon Chicken Wings - Karyl's Kulinary Krusade

Grilled Honey Bourbon Chicken Wings

Yield: 2lbs wings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Grilled Honey Bourbon Chicken Wings are sweet and a little spicy, with a mellow bourbon flavor that’s hard to beat. Reduce the marinade and baste on the wings, and you’ll be licking your fingers after every mouthwatering bite!

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs chicken wing portions
  • 1/4 cup bourbon whiskey (I use Maker's Mark)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon fresh-cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. PREPARE MARINADE: In one bowl, combine bourbon, honey and lemon. In another bowl, combine brown sugar, paprika, cayenne, onion powder, garlic powder, dried thyme, black pepper, salt and cornstarch. Add dry mixture to liquid mixture, and whisk well to fully combine all ingredients
  2. Add frozen wings to gallon-sized Ziploc bag. Pour in marinade, press air out, and seal. Massage marinade into wings and put into fridge to thaw and marinate for 6-8 hours
  3. Remove wings from fridge. Heat grill to 350 degrees, and spray grill grates with cooking spray. 
  4. Transfer wings from bag to a clean plate, reserving all of the marinade. Add marinade to a small saucepan and set aside.
  5. Transfer wings to hot grill and cook for 12 minutes per side
  6. WHILE WINGS COOK: Add marinade to small saucepan. Bring to a low boil, reduce to a low simmer, and cook for 10-15 minutes. The sauce will reduce and thicken, and the raw will cook out
  7. Baste wings on both sides with reduced marinade, and cook for another 5 minutes
  8. Transfer wings from grill to a platter, and allow to rest for 5 minutes

Notes

Use a good bourbon. You don’t have to break the bank, and there are a variety of good bourbons at reasonable prices. I like to use Maker's Mark.

I buy frozen chicken wings because they are much more economical than buying fresh. 

Add the marinade to the frozen wings, and the marinade will absorb as the wings thaw. The wings will take 6-8 hours to thaw in the fridge. 

While the wings cook, add the marinade to a saucepan and simmer for 10-15 minutes. This will cook out the "raw" in the used marinade. The cornstarch helps the marinade thicken, and the result is a beautiful glaze.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How long do I marinate the wings if they are thawed? 4 hours. You could do one hour if you're in a pinch, but you won't get nearly as much flavor

What if I don't want to cook the used marinade? Make double the marinade, divide it in half immediately, and reserve half to cook for the glaze

Can I make Grilled Honey Bourbon Chicken Wings in the oven? Absolutely! Follow the same cooking instructions

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 45 wings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 856Total Fat: 55gSaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 31gCholesterol: 186mgSodium: 1159mgCarbohydrates: 46gFiber: 2gSugar: 21gProtein: 39g

Nutrient values are estimates only. Variations may occur due to product availability and food preparation. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients, etc

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